U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Life Expectancy

The overall life expectancy of a baby born in 2006 was 77.7 years (data not shown); this varied, however, by age, sex, and race/ethnicity. A baby girl born in the United States in 2006 could expect to live 80.2 years, 5.1 years longer than a male baby, whose life expectancy would be 75.1 years (data not shown). The differential between male and female life expectancy was greater among Blacks than Whites. Black males could expect to live 69.7 years, 6.8 years fewer than Black females (76.5 years). The difference between White males and females was 4.9 years, with a life expectancy at birth for White females of 80.6 years and 75.7 years for White males. White females could expect to live 4.1 years longer than Black females. The lower life expectancy among Blacks may be partly accounted for by higher infant mortality rates.

Life expectancy has steadily increased since 1970 for males and females in both racial groups. Between 1970 and 2006, White males’ life expectancy increased from 68.0 to 75.7 years (11.3 percent), while White females’ life expectancy increased from 75.6 to 80.6 years (6.6 percent). During the same period, the life expectancy for Black males increased from 60.0 to 69.7 years (16.2 percent), while life expectancy increased from 68.3 to 76.5 years (11.7 percent) for Black females.

Life expectancy data have not been uniformly calculated and reported for the Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native populations. According to the most recent estimates available, an American Indian/Alaska Native born in 1999–2001 could expect to live 74.5 years; this represents a 17.1 percent increase over the life expectancy in 1972–1974 (63.6 years).1The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that Hispanics born in 1999 would have a life expectancy of 83.7 years for females and 77.2 years for males. Asian males born in 1999 had a life expectancy of 80.9 years, while life expectancy for Asian females born in that year was 86.5 years (data not shown). 2

Line graph: Life Expectancy at Birth [D]

1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Indian Health Service. Facts on Indian Health Disparities. January 2006 [online]. http://info.ihs.gov/, accessed 05/11/09.
2 U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, National Projections Program. Projected Life Expectancy at birth by Race and Hispanic Origin, 1999 to 2100. January 13, 2000 [online]. http://www.census.gov/, accessed 05/11/09.

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